The Khan is here! The Khan is here! Ok…maybe not quite…but that’s what I wanted to yell when I finally had a chance to crack some Khans and play with the new shiny toys. Oh boy! Oh Boy! Oh Boy! I’ll spare you waxing poetically about Khans and let’s get to the good stuff.
So, my initial reaction to this pack is BOOOO…nothing crazy sweet in this pack, but it is pretty reasonable and offers some interesting choices for cards and a tough first pick. Having not had a ton of limited experience with this set I’m working a bit in a vacuum, but I still have an idea about where I would go.
Let’s start with the rare and while the Deflecting Palm has proven to be very good in Jeskai tempo decks in Constructed, it is by no means a slam dunk for Draft. It will very likely sit dead in your hand in many games, if you draw it, and even once you do it does little to impact the board. Now, there will absolutely be situations where it is the best card you could have hoped to pull, but most of the time will be unless you’re on the Jeskai game plan and can trigger a load of Prowess triggers. I won’t discount this card from this pack, but it isn’t an automatic slam first pick.
Amongst the uncommons we have a couple of really interesting cards. Let’s start with the Charm because these are all very powerful. All three modes of this are borderline bananas and the sheer versatility of this card makes me want to jump on board. Yes, it is 3 different mana symbols to cast it, but the options this can present are remarkable. Also, with the wide range of mana fixing in this set like the common Refuge cycle, Banners, and Tri-lands (and forget about those fetches) you could easily pull this off.
Sultai Flayer is a 3/4 for 4 mana and is very versatile. While the name claims it is a Sultai creature, it can also synergize very nicely with the Temur clan because of all the 4 toughness creatures it seems to have kicking around. Gaining 4 life is pretty significant and big creatures tend to have a bit of a bulls-eye on them, so you may as well reap a little benefit from it. The 3/4 for 4 mana is also pretty efficient and gives you something to exert some good board presence.
Goblinslide is not something I’m really keen on because I don’t really want to play that has no impact on the board when I cast it, needs other pieces to trigger it (like non-creature spells) and then STILL pay 1 mana to get the Goblin token. It has its applications, but I’m not lining up for this one.
Shambling Attendants gets my attention because a 3/5 with Deathtouch is pretty solid. The casting cost on this one is not ideal, and even with the Delve it makes for a tough sell, but something this large with deathtouch basically shuts down your opponent because they will be unlikely to be keen to trade with the attendant. A little pricey, but will get a good solid look based on the impact it can have on the board.
Archer’s Parapet gets my attention pretty quickly because it is a way to help bust a board stall situation. Two mana for 0/5 is totally doable and gives you a solid barrier to hide behind while you set up your board. The fact that you can use it to deal damage in the later game is a nice bonus. The black activation is not a big drawback due to all the fixing in this set, but it is something to keep in mind as you move through your draft.
Rite of the Serpent. Well, Well…6 mana removal is back. You’ll play this and it will likely get drafted mid-round because removal is always at a premium. The thing that I like most about this card is that you get a sweet bonus of a Snake token if you take out a creature with a +/1+1 counter on it. That’s some nice value, even if it is conditional.
Weave Fate is the Divination for this set, but might be slightly better because it is at instant speed. Blue decks will want this and will be happy to grab it and play it on their opponent’s end step all game long.
Tusked Colossodon is a massive Green fatty for 6 mana. I remember when Craw Wurm was the big dumb Green fatty for 6…this guy is a significant upgrade. You won’t want this guy early but to grab him later in the round as a big defender or just a way to trigger Ferocious will earn this guy his stripes.
Mardu Banner and Swiftwater Cliffs sort of serve the same role of enabling the fixing in this set with so many demands on your mana base. The fact that these are readily available in just about every pack is good news and may mean that both of these are available later in the round. However, don’t be surprised to see these guys start disappearing earlier and earlier as people fight over the mana they want/need.
Swift Kick is an interesting take on the Green “fight” style of removal. Instant speed, and getting +1/+0 could mean you take out their creature, but you are likely working out a trade at best and leaving you down a card because they lose their creature…and you just traded your creature and a spell to do it. Also, 4 mana for this sort of effect is pretty expensive, particularly when Savage Punch is in this same set at 2 mana. This is acceptable and does see play, but it isn’t high on my list of priorities.
Rush of Battle has all the trappings of being just like Sanctified Charge except Charge is an Instant and grants First Strike and not Lifelink. The key is the Instant speed and First strike because they tip the scales and make Sanctified Charge terrific as your whole team just runs over your opponent. Rush of Battle is a sorcery, so needs to be played before combat is declared in order to even have effect, but the LifeLink doesn’t guarantee that your boys win in combat the way that Charge almost certainly ensured it. You will rarely run this and only if you are desperate for playables or ways to trigger Prowess.
Cancel is a perfectly reasonable counter spell in most formats and this set is no different. The problem becomes where do you prioritize it? I would argue that it is a mid-round pick for me, and mostly as insurance to make sure that I am packing some counter magic, but I may find that it slides further down the pick order as the format evolves.
My first pick out of this pack is quite seriously the Sultai Charm because I like the versatility of the spell and all three modes are very strong. The casting cost is a little prohibitive, but there is loads of fixing in every pack and by selecting it first you can craft your deck to support all three colours if that is the route you intend to take. However, even if you don’t play Sultai because the colours aren’t overly open, you are at least assured that you won’t have to face this down as you move through your rounds. I had considered Deflecting Palm and opted for the Charm because it is just more useful in more situations than Deflecting Palm, which is really only good in a couple of situations.
Well, there we have it as we move into the new world that is Khans draft limited and things look sweet. Even with this pack, which is pretty marginal, has a bunch of really interesting options to consider when evaluating the cards in the pack. I’m really excited for what Khans is going to offer the draft environment and help freshen up the Limited environment. I can’t wait to get my first crack at the format and see what the draft feels like to play first hand.
Thanks very much for once again reading this week and I can’t wait to see what Khans offers us as the draft and constructed formats continue to evolve and emerge. Thanks very much and may you open nothing but Mythic rares.
by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters @bgray8791 on Twitter
|Set Name||Khans of Tarkir|
|Block||Set 1 of 3 in the Khans of Tarkir block|
|Number of Cards||269|
|Prerelease Events||September 20-21, 2014|
|Release Date||September 26, 2014|
|Launch Weekend||September 26-28, 2014|
|Game Day||October 18-19, 2014|
|Magic Online Prerelease Events||October 3-6, 2014|
|Magic Online Release Date||October 6, 2014|
|Magic Online Release Events||October 6-22, 2014|
|Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir||October 10–12, 2014|
|Pro Tour Khans of TarkirLocation||Honolulu, Hawaii, USA|
|Pro Tour Khans of TarkirFormats||Swiss:
|Official Three-Letter Code||KTK|
|Initial Concept and Game Design||Mark Rosewater (lead)
Mark L. Gottlieb
and Ken Nagle
|Final Game Design and Development||Erik Lauer (lead)
and Adam Prosak
with contributions from Matt Tabak
|Languages||English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish|
|Available in||Booster Packs, Intro Packs*, Event Deck*, Fat Pack*
(* – Not available in all languages)
(Magic Online only available in English.)
Khans of Tarkir is going to be a large set—small set—large set block structure (like Innistrad, Dark Ascension, and Avacyn Restored, with a special consideration for Limited and “a time travel element” yet to be revealed.
Tarkir itself is a plane of five warring clans, each worships a different aspect of the plane’s (now extinct) dragons.
Abzan Houses – , Aspect: Endurance, Khan: Anafenza, Symbol: Scales, Theme: Control
Jeskai Way – , Aspect: Cunning, Khan: Narset, Symbol: Eye, Theme: Tricks
Mardu Horde – , Aspect: Speed, Khan: Zurgo Helmsmasher, Symbol: Wings, Theme: Aggro
Sultai Brood – , Aspect: Ruthlessness, Khan: Sidisi, Symbol: Fang, Theme: Resource manipulation
Temur Frontier – , Aspect: Savagery, Khan: Surrak Dragonclaw, Symbol: Claws, Theme: Midrange fatties